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Caring for Your Books Properly

Books are meant to be handled, but their very use results in damage from wear and tear. To preserve your collection, encourage both staff members and patrons to follow a few simple guidelines.

Handle books with clean hands and keep them away from food and beverages. Rubber bands and paperclips will both cause damage to books, so remove them if they are present. Avoid forcing books open. Book cradles can support books at a gentle angle to minimize stress on the spine. Books are often severely damaged during photocopying on machines with a flat platen. Never press the spine of a book down to get a good image. Instead, you may want to invest in a copier made specifically for books or limit copying to trained staff only.

If you are repairing books, choose archival quality materials and adhesives, which will remain flexible over time. For rare books, leather bindings and special collections, it’s advisable to consult a professional bookbinder or book conservator.

Rare, fragile or damaged books that are not being repaired will benefit from being stored in individual boxes. Custom boxes tailored to fit your rare books offer the best protection. If this is not possible, choose the closest size box available and pad the extra space with crumpled archival quality tissue.

Request our Bookcraft Book Repair Guide >